A man dressed as a tree was arrested Monday afternoon in downtown Portland and charged with obstructing a public way.
Assistant Police Chief Vern Malloch said Asher A. Woodworth, 30, of Portland, who was standing in traffic at High and Congress streets, was arrested by officers after refusing orders to leave the congested intersection.
Woodworth was taken to the Cumberland County Jail, where bail was set at $60 cash. He was released Monday night after making bail.
Obstructing a public way is a Class E misdemeanor.
Attempts to reach Woodworth were unsuccessful. He declined to be interviewed while he was still at the jail, and he also did not respond to an email request for an interview.
“His motivation was to see how people would react to what he called his ‘performance’ and how he might impact ‘people’s natural choreography,’ ” Malloch said in an email. Malloch said Woodworth made the comments about his motives as he was being booked at the jail by Portland officers.
Malloch said Woodworth went to Congress Square wearing what appeared to be branches from an evergreen tree.
“It happens from time to time,” Malloch said of Woodworth’s performance in the heart of Portland’s arts district. “People do bizarre things because they want to get arrested. We’re still not sure if he was trying to make a statement.”
Police have arrested a man dressed as tree for blocking traffic on Congress Street…as God is my witness. pic.twitter.com/VUFQY6Vyv0
— TVTEDDY (@TVTEDDY) October 24, 2016
Malloch said Woodworth was not holding a sign, handing out fliers, or protesting a cause when he was taken into custody.
During a 20-second video recorded by WCSH-TV, which has studios nearby, two Portland officers can be seen talking to Woodworth. The officers are shown lifting branches off his face as they warn him to stay out of the intersection.
“I’ll accept your silence as you understand. You’re free to go. Stay out of the roads,” one officer tells Woodworth.
The officers walk away, leaving the tree man standing next to a pedestrian crossing light. When he wanders back into traffic, Woodworth is arrested.
When Portland police handcuffed Woodworth and placed him in a police cruiser, he was not wearing his tree branches, but was fully clothed, the WCSH-TV video revealed.